Accra, May 5, GNA - Mr Charles Binipong Bintim, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, on Thursday advised hawkers to comply with the directives of Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) or else force would be applied.
Mr Bintim, who was interacting with Members of the Assembly at the Second Ordinary Meeting of the Third Session of the Assembly, said: "If persuasion fails force would be applied, but this would be done reasonably."
He said: "The Ministry of Local Government is 100 per cent in support of the AMA in the decongestion exercise and expressed regret that a directive from the Ministry earlier was misinterpreted, thereby creating confusion in the Metropolis.
Mr Bintim explained that the directive did not ask the AMA and Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly to halt the exercise but only directed that districts that wanted to embark on similar exercise were to halt and find places for the hawkers before taking any further action.
He stated that after the AMA and KMA had embarked on the decongestion exercise some assemblies also wanted to embark on similar exercises hence the directive.
Mr Bintim said under the Local Government Act, the AMA had the powers to remove or stop activities that posed nuisance. He, therefore, gave the assurance that the Ministry would continue to collaborate with AMA to ensure that the status of the City was raised.
On the resettlement of the hawkers, Mr Bintim said the Ministry and AMA would ensure that the hawkers got the needed facilities at the various locations adding: "The resettlement of the hawkers would be done once and for all".
After the explanation the Assembly Members commended the Government for supporting the ongoing decongestion exercise in the Metropolis. The Members had earlier on Tuesday halted their Chief Executive Officer, Mr Stanley Adjiri-Blankson from addressing the House because the statement from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development appeared to be critical of the exercise.
However, when the Minister clarified the position, the Members expressed their delight about the Ministry's offer to assist AMA in its operations, saying: "This is what we want to see between the Assembly and the Ministry in its bid to beautify the city".
They noted that the issue of decongesting Accra had been a Herculean task and praised the Mayor for championing the cause. "In fact we have had over six Mayors in the past years, who had engaged in similar exercises, but with the present Mayor we think we are going to succeed."
Mr Adjiri-Blankson told the Members that the issue of decongesting the city and resettling the hawkers did not come out of the blue stressing that the Assembly had held several meetings with the various traders' associations.
He said the Assembly had begun working on a land behind the Ghana Commercial Bank Towers at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle and a site behind Novotel Hotel but "these traders seem to have excuses that these places are too dusty among other things".
The Mayor said moving the 246 workers of the Public Works Department (PWD) and their plant and equipment would take more than six months.